Snow College’s Eccles Center was filled to the brim as child safety advocate Elizabeth Smart spoke at the Convocation Lecture Series on Thursday, January 26th. She spoke about overcoming adversity.
Smart, a Utah native, attracted media attention worldwide when she was kidnapped in 2002 at the age of fourteen. Held by her captors for nine months, Smart was abused physically, verbally, and mentally until rescued by Sandy police and returned to her home in Salt Lake City.
Smart’s highly anticipated speech was easily the most well-attended Convocation presentation of the semester so far. Jacoy Lyman, one of many students who waited in line for a good seat said, “I was so excited because I’ve read Elizabeth Smart’s book and watched documentaries about her. I think it’s interesting and inspiring that even after something as traumatic as sexual violence she was able to recover so quickly and fully. She is a beacon of hope to victims everywhere.”
In her speech, Smart recounted the story of her kidnapping, particularly the night she was abducted. The abductor, Brian David Mitchell, held a knife to her throat and took her into the woods near her home. Mitchell and his accomplice, Wanda Barzee, then held an illegal marriage ceremony to wed Smart to Mitchell.
Smart also recalled how when she was living in California, she convinced Mitchell to return to Utah, paving the way for her to be found by Sandy policemen. In the midst of horror, Smart saw miracles accompany her rescue.
Smart now lives with her husband, Matthew Gilmour, whom she met while serving an LDS mission in Paris. They have a two-year-old daughter and are expecting another child soon. Smart also serves as an advocate against child abduction, human trafficking, and sexual violence.